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Nongjrong: India’s English-speaking village above the clouds

Tucked away in the East Khasi Hills, Nongjrong boasts a mesmerizing sunrise when the valley below is blanketed in clouds as the sun's rays gently touch the hill peaks. English is the primary language of the 1440 residents of Nongjrong in Meghalaya

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Nongjrong: India’s English-speaking village above the clouds. Pic: Misonwell Rangtong

Away from the public eye, a quaint village is nestled above the clouds in the Mawkynrew Tehsil of the East Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya. Located 1,094 meters above sea level, Nongjrong is where you can touch the clouds and almost walk through them. 

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The clouds appear to be a vast white sea amid green hills and the valley at Nongjrong, which remains a less-explored gem in Meghalaya. It is about 60 km from the district headquarters of Shillong

The primary language spoken by the 1440 residents of Nongjrong is English, reflecting a unique linguistic landscape. 

They are members of the ethnic Khasi community and also speak the Khasi, an Austroasiatic language with just over a million speakers in North-East India. Their little-known village boasts a mesmerizing landscape, renowned for its sunrise point. 

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The valley of Nongjrong is veiled in ethereal clouds during the early morning, creating a breathtaking spectacle. The Umngot River flows beneath the valley, enhancing the scenic beauty with lush greenery adorning the mountains.

The village's main attraction is the hilltop viewpoint, accessible by a short hike. Arriving before sunrise allows one to witness the valley below blanketed in clouds, while the sun's rays gently touch the hill peaks.

umghot river
The Umngot River below the valley. Pic: Flickr

Clouds and beyond

The clouds in Nongjrong are all around just as in many hilly regions of Meghalaya. 'Megh' means clouds, and 'Alaya' means abode, translating into the home of the clouds. The clouds that form in the Bay of Bengal move toward the area of lesser pressure, which are the hills. In Meghalaya, the clouds get obstructed, float around, and rain when saturated. It rains heavily in Meghalaya and the heaviest rainfall is witnessed in Cherrapunji and Mawsynrum (which also receives the highest rainfall in India).

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Nongjrong's allure extends beyond its captivating views, encompassing the nearby Nongjrong Falls - a cascading waterfall surrounded by dense forest, offering a tranquil retreat.

Nongjrong: India’s English-speaking village above the clouds. Pic: Misonwell Rangtong
Watching the river-like clouds at Nongjrong. Pic: Misonwell Rangtong

For adventure seekers, kayaking or rafting on the pristine Umngot River provides an exhilarating experience.

Agriculture serves as the cornerstone of the locals' traditional way of life, with crops like rice, maize, millet, and vegetables cultivated, alongside the raising of livestock such as cows, goats, pigs, and chickens. The men folk are responsible for fetching fresh water from the springs at the foothill every morning while women look after cooking and cleaning. 

tHE road to nongjrong
The road to Nongjrong. Pic: Flickr

To reach Nongjrong from Shillong, one can hire a taxi for a two-hour journey. Alternatively, travellers can access Nongjrong from Guwahati, with a 144 km distance covered in around 5 hours by car. Whether arriving from Guwahati or Shillong, the journey promises to unveil the hidden charm of Nongjrong.

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